Friday, February 26, 2016

4 Types of Curly Hair and How to Manage Them

If you have a collection of half-used hair products, are in a constant battle against frizz, or felt slightly betrayed when Taylor Swift changed her hair style, you probably have curly hair problems. 
There's a common misconception that all curly hair is thick and course; however, that just isn't the case. Curly hair comes in all different types and can't be treated with a generic "for curly hair" label. 
I'm not about to tell you that I have the miracle trick for curly hair, but I can tell you what works for me and three of my friends and maybe you can learn a trick or two. Or leave a comment with what works for you! Just remember, one person's miracle trick is another's disaster. Like "hair plopping"- works wonders for some, makes me look like a scare crow.


1. What is your hair type? Long, thin, very fine, and dry 2. What are your favorite hair products? I change up my shampoo and conditioner quite often. I am currently using Argan Majic shampoo and Oilology Coconut Oil conditioner, Aussie 3 Minute Miracle, Herbal Essence Totally Twisted curl mousse or Sammy Fat Hair '0' Calories mousse, and coconut oil (the kind you eat!). 3. What tools do you use if any? Diffuser hairdryer, 1/2 inch curling iron. 4. What process do you use to style your hair? After I wash my hair, I squeeze some of the water out of my hair, but not too much. I don't want it to be too dry before I style it. I start by adding about a pea size amount of Aussie 3 Minute Miracle conditioner to the lengths of my hair. Even though this is not a leave-in conditioner, it works better as a leave-in than any leave-in conditioner I've ever used. I even use it as a frizz cream on dry hair if needed. It won't leave your hair feeling weird or filmy. Then I comb my hair and saturate it with mousse. I then separate it into several sections and twist each section in the direction of my natural curl. After twisting, I separate all the twists into two sections (pig tail style with half of the twists on the right and the other on the left). Then I scrunch each side with a towel to remove excess water and diffuse one side at a time until they are half dry and then I put all my hair on one side and dry some more and then again on the other side until my hair is dry. Give it a little spritz of hairspray with my head upside down and I'm done!

5. The details 
I only use a curling iron to de-poof my bangs, round out a flat crown when needed, and to reshape any random curls that have gone rogue. I have a problem with cowlicks. It's very annoying but can be controlled with a little extra work. I only wash my hair ever 2-4 days, but it's usually in a bun by the 3rd day. If I do put my hair up, it's all over. I'm either stuck with a bun or I have to wash my hair to get rid of the cowlick which forms a part down the back of my head.

I also periodically do a hair moister treatment with coconut oil. I just saturate my hair with coconut oil, put it in a high bun, go to bed, and then wash it out the next morning.

Luckily, I have an older sister who also has curly hair (It's Anna who you'll see below!), so I had someone to learn from when it came to my curly hair. Our hair is different in a lot of ways, but it was nice to learn early not to brush my curls. However, I did go through the normal cycle - fight it, hate it, accept it, love it - until I finally figured it out and decided to sometimes just embrace the mess.


1. What is my hair type? 
Short, thick, and dry. Not too course, not too fine.

2. What are your favorite hair products? 
Shampoo: 1 part baking soda mixed with 3 parts water every 3 days. 
Conditioner: 1 part Bragg’s apple cider vinegar mixed with 5 parts water. 3 drops cedarwood essential oil and 2 drops lavender essential oil. 
After showering: A tiny bit of coconut oil mixed with cedarwood essential oil. 

3. What process do you use if any? 
I air dry my hair and only use my hands to fix it. 

4. The details 
If I take a long, hot shower, my hair is ridiculously dry even if I don’t wash it that day. I basically just have to suck it up and take lukewarm or even cold showers. Cold showers work wonders for my hair, but during winter, it’s nearly painful. So I’ll have to admit that I just deal with dry hair more often during that season. The coconut oil and essential oil mixture that I use really saves me in those cases, but I have to make sure not to use too much because then my hair is extremely oily. It took me a while to understand the perfect amount to use because, let me tell you, the first time was horrifying. I literally couldn’t wash it out with any amount of water after I realized my mistake. Don’t do what I did; use way less than you think. 

Recently I started using the baking soda in water mixture I listed above because I was really tired of how regular shampoos stripped all the oil from my hair. So I’m currently in the process of trying to normalize my hair with this more natural technique. It seems to really be working because my hair is less dry than it used to be. I’ve heard that you have to do this technique for a few weeks before your scalp normalizes after years of your scalp overworking after all the oils have been stripped from your hair by using regular shampoos, but I’ve noticed results fairly quickly. I definitely think that my apple cider vinegar and essential oil mixture as conditioner has helped with that a lot—also, putting a tiny bit of coconut oil in my hair after I get out of the shower helps extensively. 

When I was younger, it seemed like all of my friends had longish-straight hair, so I felt extremely uncomfortable living alone in my curly-haired universe. I really had no idea how to handle my hair, and because of that, I found myself wearing a hat every day even though I grew out my hair like all of my straight-haired friends did. My head basically looked like an ice cream scoop because my hair puffed out from underneath my hat. When I got older, I finally decided to embrace my hair instead of hide it. I started by taking off the hat and getting a haircut, and then from there, I began to figure out different techniques to manage it. I used to hate my hair, but now I can’t imagine having any other kind. I’m really glad I have the hair I have.


1. What is your hair type? My hair is medium thickness and more coarse than fine. I'd say it's a happy medium between thick and thin and coarse and fine. My hair is also pretty oily. It starts looking pretty dirty after 2 days. 2. What are your favorite hair products? I use Pantene shampoo for curly hair. I feel like it cleans well and helps define my curls. My favorite conditioner is Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition. It has almond, avocado, and olive oils. It gives great moisture without weighing my curls down. I did see that they have a new Triple Nutrition conditioner for curly hair so I want to try that next! I have to use mousse or my hair is a frizzy mess! I've used Herbal Essence Totally Twisted mousse for years and love it. It gives my curls good definition for about 2 days and doesn't make my hair stiff. 3. What tools do you use if any? I use what I like to call a needle brush. I'm not sure what to call it other than it is not a bristle brush. I won't allow one of those within 10 feet of my hair. I also use a blow dryer with a diffuser. 4. What process do you use to style your hair? After I wash my hair I comb it out, apply mousse, and take about 4 or 5 small sections and twist them before blow drying my hair. 5. The details  I've found that I have better results if I start blow drying my hair when it's very wet. The dryer it is when I start, the frizzier it seems to be. Also, sometimes, the second day it starts looking a little "flat". A quick fix for me is to wet my hand and very gently run my fingers through my hair to give it a little more definition. Growing up I had no idea what to do with my hair so I brushed it out *gasp!* Yes, I had frizzy hair and curly bangs for several years. Yikes! I also had short hair so it looked like I had a triangle on my head. I cringe when I think about it haha! 


Michelle and I have been friends for going on 12 years now and we've gone through the struggles of curly hair together. It's nice having a close friend who you can share curl tips with. 

1. What is your hair type? Long, very thick, more on the fine side, and dry. 2. What are your favorite hair products? Volume shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, firm-hold mousse, and gel (varying brands)
3. What tools do you use if any?  
Diffuser hairdryer 

4. What process do you use to style your hair?  
I would like to say that I have graduated to the perfect formula to manage my mane, but the truth is, my hair still has frizz and bad days. I often change my routine when I feel that the current formula has stopped working or my hair lacks in the curl department. My hair, similar to most curly hair, tends to be very dry. For this reason, I don’t wash my hair daily. In fact, I only wash it every four days, each day receives a different routine.

Day One: My hair receives a full shampoo and conditioner treatment. I’m not really picky about my products. I usually find a shampoo that offers volume and a conditioner suitable for dry hair. After showering, I twist my hair and scrunch it to release excess water followed by scrunching the ends on a towel. I wait about 5-10 minutes before putting product in my hair. If it’s too wet it turns crunchy, and if it’s too dry it gets frizzy. When my hair is still damp without dripping wet, I add a good amount of leave-in conditioner. I never used leave-in conditioner until a couple months ago – but now I’m hooked! It seemed to be the exact amount of moisture that my dry hair needed! Once my hair is evenly coated with leave-in conditioner, I’ll add mousse (I choose something that offers a firm hold). (It’s important to note that I NEVER run my fingers through my hair once I get out of the shower. This just sets my hair up for a frizzy disaster.) This technique includes twisting my entire hair into one curl as I scrunch the mousse and then proceed to scrunch throughout. At this point my hair will be pretty soaked in product, so I’ll wait about five minutes before adding gel. I repeat the mousse technique to apply the gel. To give my hair an added bounce and speed the drying process, I finalize the look by scrunching and holding parts of my hair under a diffuser for about five minutes. The diffuser is another new addition to my hair routine. I never used to take the time, but now I don’t arrive places with a sopping mop of hair – not to mention it adds to the bounce! It sounds like quite a process, but really it only takes me about ten minutes to do my hair in the morning. That is, if I wash it!

Day Two: So what about the other days that I don’t wash it? The trick is to keep the bounce of day one without the work. So every night, I use a scrunchy – yes the old school kind. I wrap it around my hair, JUST ONCE then wrap my hair around the scrunchy to a loose donut bun. I sleep with my hair like this and when I wake up my curls are still bouncing! (It’s never as good as Day One, but it’s close!) When showering, I cover my hair with a shower cap then I’m on with my day! No extra work or long routine.

Day Three: My scrunchy technique only takes me so far, by this day my hair is frizzy and needs some help. Depending on how much time I have, I will usually condition my hair (No Shampoo) and repeat the routine from day one. If I don’t have time for that routine (the main time consuming part is washing and conditioning this big head of hair) I will use some emergency frizz cream and diffuse it to spruce it up.

Day Four: Repeat the routine of day two

The road to managing curly hair has not been easy. I was born with a great big ball of hair to a family that had little insight into managing it. My mother, as any well-intentioned generic hair mother would do, had me brush my hair everyday. I would assume you could imagine the outcome – a full-size frizzy lion’s mane. I share this with you so you can know – there is hope!

By middle school I learned to take my hair into my own hands, so as the fad required at the times, I straightened it. Now this was quite a step from my unruly hairstyles, so I continued the trend and somewhere along the way decided to let my hair be curly on the down days – rarely did I let anyone in the outside world see my true hair. One day I braved the crowd and let my true self shine. I received such an overwhelming positive response that I eventually decided to embrace my inner lion (a tamed lion) and forsake the tedious and damaging work of the straightener. My shoulder length allowed for a voluptuous curl without reaching fro status. I began with a mix of products always including mousse and gel.


Eliana said...

My hair used to be very ringlety, but in eighth grade I started straightening my hair waaaay too much. It is now almost trained to be straight which is helpful because it takes less time when i want to straighten it, but on days I want it to be natural some peices are super straight and some are wavy. Almost none of my hair is curly the way it used to be and I miss that. I only straighten my hair about once or twice a week now but my curl still hasn't come back! :( any tips?

Annie Luhmann said...

This is a cool post! I don't have curly hair, but my younger sister does. She's only four so she doesn't quite need this, but I'm sure it will be helpful for her when she gets older. :) I can tell you put a lot of effort into this post! Its great! :)

Unknown said...

Hey Eliana! I'm not sure how long it has been since you started straightening your hair, but your curls can change as you get older.Hormonal changes can effect your hair in a lot of ways including making it less or more curly. That could be one of the reasons your hair doesn't curl the way it used to. However, In my experience, the more damaged my hair is, the less it will curl. This is more likely to be the case.
I did something similar when I was in college. I started straightening my hair a lot and noticed that on the days when I didn't, my curls were not working like they used to. I stopped straightening my hair for sever months and my curls came back!
I would suggest not straightening your hair for at least 2 weeks and doing a few conditioning treatments (like using coconut oil or leaving a good conditioner in your hair over night) during that time. It might take a while for your hair to recover but you'll probably start to see your curls coming back with some added moister.

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Michelle R. said...

Great article! I like how you focused on the fact that different curls can require very different treatment. I tend to have problems with product buildup/dryness, so will try washing my hair with baking soda : )

Anonymous said...

This post was very helpful. I'm not even a teenager anymore, and I'm still trying to find what works for my hair. My mom has straight hair (I got all my curly hair from my dad), and I'm the oldest, so I was never well informed about what my hair really needed. I just recently tried moving to products that help moisturize my hair. I'm going to try some of these tips on how to dry my hair. I might have less frizz if I stop scrubbing it with a towel to dry it and start twisting it dry.

Unknown said...

I have long, thick hair. My ringlets are typically only underneath and sometimes around my face, while the top layer is usually just wavy. I've learned that it's helpful to dry my hair with an old t-shirt rather than a towel because the fuzz on the towel catches the curls and creates frizz. Since learning the t-shirt trick, I hardly ever have to use mousse anymore!

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